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Grade: Elementary

#1395. Spiders

Reading/Writing, level: Elementary
Posted Wed Nov 10 12:59:58 PST 1999 by Sondra L. Nortz (
McKinley Elementary School, Toledo - U.S.
Materials Required: Books, posters of various spiders
Activity Time: One hour
Concepts Taught: Why Spiders Don't Get Caught in Their Own Webs

TITLE: Mystery Strategy
CONCEPT: Why Spiders Don't Get Caught in Their Own Webs

1. Students should be able to come to the conclusion, from various clues
given, that the mysterious creature is a spider.
2. Students should be able to conclude that spiders come in a variety of
shapes, colors, and sizes.
3. Spiders are alike, but also different in many ways.
4. Spiders have a unique ability that allows them to catch insects in their
own webs without getting caught themselves.
5. How it is possible that spiders do not get caught in their own webs.

The teacher will read the following scenario to the students:

There once was a creature who just loved to go for walks, go swimming, or just lie around and do absolutely nothing. He even liked to go bungi-jumping on sunny summer days. However, there was something strange about this creature. Whenever anyone would come over to see him, they would never be seen again! Whenever he would come outside to greet his neighbors, they would run away. He just couldn't understand why no one liked him. You could find this creature spending many hours constructing his own home.

The teacher will pose the following questions after having read the above scenario.
1. Why do you think no one liked this creature?
2. Why do you think he had a hard time making friends?
3. When he had friends over to visit, why were they never seen again?
4. Where do you think this creature lives?
5. Why did he have to build his own home?

The teacher will go over to a chart where she already has a list of questions that she will pose, one at a time, to her students (see the five questons listed above). The students will try to formulate a tentative hypothesis about the lesson. Then the teacher will ask how many of the children are ready to look at the clues that would help them to begin to solve the mystery of this unknown creature. The students should remember to keep in mind their tentative hypothesis while the clues are being read. They must be reminded that the clues must support their hypothesis and if they don't, they have to be willing to change their hypothesis. The clues are then passed out to each group.
The students will be arranged in groups of four and they will decide who will distribute the clues, who will read, record, and be in charge of keeping the group on task. The students will gather and record this information in their own individual notebooks.

Some look scary
Some are harmful, some are not
Some are helpful, some are not
Some are big, some are little
Some are brown, while others can be red, yellow, or even black
Some are furry
Some live in the water, while others have been seen in trees and in caves.

Students will be asked to begin to gather their information and develop a tentative hypothesis. The teacher will then give the second set of clues to each group.

Some are as small as a pinhead, while others are as large as a dinner plate
Some lived about 300 million years ago even before dinosaurs
Some have 8 eyes, some 6, 4, 2, or none at all
Some run after their prey, some stalk it, ambush it, or trap it

Students will again be asked to gather their information and see if they can come to any conclusions as to what this creature is. The teacher will then give a third set of clues to each group. The students will be able to redefine their original hypothesis if needed.

Some bite
Some are poisonous
They all have eight legs

Now that all the clues have been presented, the students should be able to identify what this mysterious creature is. They will be asked to share their ideas with the class while being guided by the teacher. Then they will be asked to investigate further by listening to the final set of clues that will help them to find out what special ability the spider possesses. They will continue to record their ideas in their notebooks.

Geometrically sound
Silk thread
Eveyone is unique and different
By now, the students should be formulating an accurate and valid hypothesis based on the clues and evidence that they have been given. After they have discussed their final hypothesis, they will be asked to share their results with the class.

Lesson has been posted at
Sondra L. Nortz
Toledo Public Schools
McKinley Elementary School